Seeing Nakato seated in Baby class together with other five year old's, raising bottle caps of different
colours seems effortlessly done. To her mother and twin sister, they have hoped and waited for this
miracle for the last 10 years. In fact going to school was far beyond what they asked for then...
Babirye Elsheeba and Nakato Elizabeth were born in 2005 in the outskirts of Kampala city. Their mother Janipher described her shock, with tears streaming down her cheeks as she sorts groundnuts into two mounds, of how neither of her two scans showed that she was carrying twins.
Yet there she was, one baby out and being told
there was one more to go. Babirye was delivered without complication at 11:00am. For Nakato, things were a little more complicated and a delayed birth at 7pm resulted. Janipher was told that Nakato would experience challenges when growing up. Little did she know what such a communication entailed nor carried.
Whereas Babirye grew up normally, Nakato could neither sit nor stretch after reaching four years of age. Janipher recalls
"It was agonising putting Nakato in a sitting position, for both Nakato and myself. Coupled with the stigma and torment from relatives and friends, I was gradually torn apart".
Her husband’s departure was the final blow. She started seeking physiotherapy services from Mulago National Referral hospital. The monthly visits to the hospital were not short of grimaces from the onlookers as she journeyed to the hospital. Despite the taunts, she soldiered on but noticed no real improvement with the baby after one year. Wiping her eyes with the back of her hand, she remembers how she then resorted to locking her child inside. More tears pour from down Janipher's cheeks. She recounts how distressing neighbours’ comments on how her baby’s condition was a result of her previous evil acts had become. She became so stigmatised that she retreated into a state of self-hate.
One of Janipher's neighbours turned friend, having a child with a similar condition visited her with the intention of introducing her to the Nurture Africa disability centre. Janipher explains...
"My heart sank for a moment. Three years had passed and I had convinced myself that I had the situation under control. Having moved home, I had received no inquiries about Nakato until now".
Her neighbour however implored her to visit the centre.
"I hastened to agree as a way of dismissing her".
Her neighbour showed up at the door the following day expecting Janipher and Nakato to be ready to embark on the journey. However, determined not to ever face her tormentors again, she locked the door letting her neighbour’s knocks end unanswered. Four days later, she gave in to the neighbour’s relentless knocks who on peering through one of the windows spotted Janipher.
"Off we went to Nurture Africa together", her face beaming. "The positive reception at Nurture Africa, the similar conditions to Nakato’s and Nakato's own facial expressions reversed my initial protestations".
The changes from day one were unexpected, later on unbelievable. Janipher narrated with a visible smile...
"The evening Babirye pulled me from outside to show me how Nakato was trying to reach out for a cup that lay in a corner was celebrated as a milestone. Nakato had lay motionless in this exact spot for the previous years! Soon, Nakato also sat unaided for an hour or so and better still we received a wheelchair from Nurture Africa. The stigma thinned out slowly too as I wheeled Nakato back and forth to the Nurture Africa Disability Centre over the following weeks. One special moment", Janipher explains, eyes filled with passion, "was the Sunday, we wheeled Nakato to church for the first time. It was a special moment for our family".
One year later, Janipher was selected to enrol on a Community Banking Group (CBG) supported by Nurture Africa. This would enable Janipher to earn an income and provide for her families needs.
"With the training provided by Nurture Africa, I decided to start preparing snacks, targeting shops and schools in the neighbourhood. I have noticed that our families' story is changing for the better with the profits accumulated. I am now in a position to provide for our needs".
"During her routine home visits, the Nurture Africa physiotherapist repeatedly encouraged me to
enrol Nakato in a disability friendly school also. I was determinedly, and visited the nearest school, about three kilometres away, to inquire whether Nakato could be placed there. To my surprise, I was handed forms to fill in the child’s details and Nakato was accepted to start the following school term".
Janipher closes our conversation by stating
"I wish to express my gratefulness for the work of Nurture Africa and appreciate every individual involved in restoring hope for my daughter and our family".